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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Work Camp-

The last two weeks have presented me with rain at my place of camping. The week before last I had cause to take a few days off, and missed the greater part of the rain. I did not camp that week. Last week I went early and used the warehouse at work to set up my tent. I then drove a few hundred yards and set up camp, nice and dry. I used a tarp over everything, and stayed very warm and dry that week.

In many parts of the country I could not easily camp at work. Indeed, if I weren't sleeping during the day I would not be able to camp where I do. Then again, I would not need to camp if I were working days. I do this to rest after working all night. We have very nice weather most of the year, and this parking lot camp is reasonably pleasant.

I have found ice on the tent a few mornings. I crawled inside and was quite warm in minutes. Most days I need to open my vents fully and get as much air as possible, even in the depths of winter.

Summer has not been bad. We are less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean and the Monterey Bay. We get a sea breeze most afternoons, keeping the area cool.

I have been camping in a truck bed tent for the better part of the last year. So far I have found it a manageable way of living, even something that could be done full-time by a person of suitable temperament. I know I could do it for a protracted time, if traveling alone. Provided the traveler avoids extremes of weather I think it is a fine way to live.

This particular style suites the vehicle I already have, and is very low cost. It is working well for the present in allowing me to get plenty of rest while working night shifts, and avoiding risky morning commutes after staying up all night.

I have considered many other systems that could be put together at relatively low cost. I would love to test some of these, but funds are not sufficient for the present. Who knows what the future holds? I may someday get to test other ways of camping.

That might make a nice "next career." Hmmmm.

Life Changes-

The past few weeks have been big for life changes. My son Matthew and I flew to Texas to help my daughter Beth and her family pack up and move back to California. They had to leave the burden of a house they could not afford and return after about three years of giving it a go in Texas. I admired them for their courage to make that move, but am not averse to the return.

I have my grandchildren back. Of all the things I have been and done in my life nothing has compared to being a grandpa. I very much missed my little ones when they moved half way across the country. Matthew's daughter Allie visits often, staying sometimes for days. That has been good, but having the whole herd back together is fabulous.

The return trip from Texas was a grand adventure. We took four days and managed to stop and see a few things. I have placed photos from that trip here. It was a lot of fun and provided me with some satisfaction of my desire to travel.

So, we got everyone back and unloaded the Budget rental truck into the house. This brought our population back up to nine people, four generations living under one roof. This also required us to combine the contents of two households into one house. After unpacking the house looked like a warehouse, and was equally comfortable for living.

I gave up my own room to my daughter and her husband, Dave. I did this gladly, though it did create a bit of crowding in the room my wife had claimed as her private sanctuary for the past few years. It took another week to get my computer set up in that space, and even now this set up is a bit temporary. Unfortunately I haven't converted to a laptop as yet.

Slowly but surely we are bringing the household together. Dave has returned to Amerigas, taking up the employment he had prior to leaving for Texas. I continue at the jail, and Linda is still Lunch Lady at Boulder Creek Elementary. Getting the household together shall probably be a long-term project, perhaps a lifetime project.

Did I enjoy having my own space? Absolutely. Did I make a reasonable exchange? Yes! I am frequently awash in grandchildren, and I find that wonderful.

So far my weekly camping trip to work has been adequate to decompress from living with so many people together. There, when I am not working, I am alone. At home I am seldom alone, and that is fine with me.

Over time we will have to rework our living space to accommodate everyone and make everyone comfortable. So far Linda and Beth have worked wonders in adjusting things so that we have gone from warehouse to house to a cluttered home. Over time the clutter will be settled (I hope) and we will have a cozy home for our family.

It has only been a few weeks. My life has turned upside down, and I am delighted. I look forward to seeing how things work out over time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Recent Journey-

The last couple of weeks have been busy. Work has just been work, though during this time I completed my nineteenth year as a correctional officer. I am thankful for a job that has met the needs of my family, though I am weary of the task itself. I shall retire next December, and move on to something else.

What made the weeks busy had been preparation to bring my Texas family back to California. We shall dwell together, four generations under one roof. They were treading water economically, and Texas was not proving to be the place they could call home. Though the San Antonio area is very nice, they were burdened with more expenses than they could handle. So, it was time to come home.

Coming home provided an adventure and road trip for myself and my son, Matthew. We flew back to help with the move. Several days of preparation, then on the road with a Budget rental truck, a small car in tow, and an SUV. Three adults, three kids, and four days on the road.

I am still working on the Picasa photo album for this trip. It was actually a lot of fun. Hard for the kids, but we all pulled together and they did quite well for such little ones. Our stops were in Amarillo, Texas; Winslow, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; and home to Felton, California.

Amarillo included a visit to The Big Texan. Keeping costs down we opted for more affordable meals rather than the big steaks for which the place is famous. I would love to return for a nice steak dinner, but just having the experience was rather nice. The Big Texan is just tacky enough to be very cool. If you are ever traveling on highway 40 near Amarillo, I recommend a stop.

Winslow proved to be fun. It was at just the right point for a stop, and we visited Standin' on the Corner Park the following morning. It was a great photo opportunity, and a great addition to the travel video my daughter and granddaughter were preparing to send back to friends and classmates in Texas. I will probably put it up on YouTube once it is done.

Between Texas and Arizona was a journey through New Mexico. This added a state to the list of those I have visited. My 30th state, using a very loose count. New York, Georgia and Arkansas were actually just plane changes, and hardly count except in a technical sense. West Virginia was passed through on a train at night, and I saw little. Most of the others I saw at least a little bit. Every one I would love to visit again and see more.

New Mexico included a stop at Continental Divide. We visited some Indian souvenir shops and got some pictures. The divide is a bit less dramatic in New Mexico that when I crossed at other points further north, but the stop was fun. My granddaughter Madelyn was excited to meet real Indians. Perhaps when she is a bit older I can share with her that several of her classmates in Texas had been descended from Mexican Indians, and that Indians had already been part of her life.

Our trip through Arizona included a trip to the Grand Canyon. Taking a moving van towing a car through a national park is not something I would recommend, but we wanted to include at least a short visit to the Grand Canyon in our travels. We were passing quite near, and the loop proved to be an easy drive and a good investment.

We were all quite impressed. One could not help but be impressed by something so vast and so majestic. My son Matthew said it best, stating that no photograph or video does it justice. It is a thing worthy of awe in the proper sense of the term. I would love to spend more time there, some day.

On the way out of the park I spotted two Elk, and we saw several deer just a few miles away. There were huge crows living along the rim. Granted more time we might have seen other animals. Beth, my daughter, wanted to see the mountain lion noted on the mountain lion crossing signs along the road. No such luck.

Kingman proved to be just a stoping place. A cheap room next to a truck stop and an active rail line. Adequate, but nothing worthy of note.

We had hoped to travel highway 93 across the Hoover Dam and drive through Las Vegas, but security did not allow rented trucks to pass over the dam. Damned terrorists, messing up our travel plans! So, across the Mojave Desert, through Bakersfield and the Central Valley, and on home.

Then came unloading the truck and finding places to put all of the stuff. We will be weeks getting it all in order and restructuring our lives so that we can all dwell together in one house. It will be a challenge, but I have missed having the grandkids close at hand.

Now they will be quite close, indeed! Papa is very happy!